Want the kids to behave these school holidays? Tell them if they're good, next time you might take them to one of these world-class museums great for families.
1 American Museum of Natural History
A Night at the Museum
will be blown away when they realise this was where the films were set. The museum provides visitors with a self-guided tour that showcases the real exhibits behind your favourite characters from the movies. Better yet, you can even re-enact your favourite moments by spending the night at one of the museum's popular sleepovers - just be sure to book in advance. Movie trivia aside, this is the largest natural history museum in the world - spanning four city blocks and 25 interconnected buildings - with exhibits to awe kids and adults alike. It contains the best collection of dinosaur and fossil vertebrates in the world - the immense T-Rex and Apatosaurus are particularly popular. The Rose Center for Earth and Space is also a must-see - be sure to take a walk down 75 million years of cosmic evolution in the Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway.
2 Powerhouse Museum
Housed in the old Ultimo power plant, the aptly named Powerhouse is the flagship branch of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. With multiple levels to explore, there's something for everyone at this Sydney favourite, with 12 permanent exhibitions ranging from science to fashion to entertainment. The littlies will love the Wiggles exhibition - complete with a real Big Red Car - while older kids can try to solve an interactive mystery at the Sherlock Holmes exhibition, or enrol in a special Minecraft workshop during the school holidays.
3 Queensland Museum
Part of the cultural precinct on Brisbane's trendy South Bank, the Queensland Museum recently hosted the World Science Festival for the second time, with plenty of activities and exhibits just for kids. However, there's still lots to see and do when the festival isn't on. The Discovery Centre is a showcase of the collection, containing thousands of objects, animals and fossils and that can all be touched - including live stick insects. Kids can also get acquainted with the dinosaurs, marine reptiles and megafauna that once inhabited Queensland. The current special exhibition, Gladiators, explores the history of ancient Rome and will be showing until next January.
4 Te Papa
When it comes to world-class museums, New Zealanders don't have to look far - Wellington's Te Papa is a must-see if you're visiting the capital. There's plenty to see over its six floors, so you'll definitely want to spend the better part of a day here to take it all in. There's a great variety of free activities on offer these school holidays, including a musical variety show with children's entertainer Chris Lam Sam, puppet theatre, magic shows, a balloon sculpture workshop and even a day with the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Rugby fans won't want to miss the All Blacks exhibition and everyone will want to stop and gawk at the famous colossal squid.
5 Smithsonian Museum
The Smithsonian isn't just one museum - it's a collective of 17 museums, galleries and a zoo, all in the Washington DC area. Best of all, every one of them has free entry. Considering it's the world's largest museum and research complex, there's a lot of walking to do - so be sure to wear your most comfortable shoes. Kids can climb aboard a flight simulator at the National Air and Space Museum, get down with dinosaurs at the National Museum of Natural History, or check out some animals that aren't extinct at the National Zoo. The collections on show are so large and varied that there's bound to be something to interest everyone.
The biggest science museum in all of Europe, the ultra-modern Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie is also one of the most kid-friendly museums in Paris. There's a large playground to keep them entertained, as well as an IMAX theatre in a huge silver globe, a submarine you can climb into and a planetarium. The exhibits are based around 11 themes: Light, Sound, Maths, Genetics, Image, the Ocean, Space Exploration, Transportation, Energy, Rocks and Volcanoes, Stars and Galaxies. Everything on show is highly interactive, so there won't be any boring moments. The lower levels of the museum are aimed at kids aged 2-7 and there are more than 100 activities to try. The Cite is also known for accessibility and offers free entry for people with disabilities and accompanying visitors.
7 Ghibli Museum
If you're hoping to visit this immensely popular museum during your time in Tokyo, you'll need to book well before you arrive - tickets sell out extremely quickly. A must-visit for fans of Studio Ghibli's animation movies - think My Neighbour Totoro, Ponyo and Spirited Away - the museum was designed by master director Hayao Miyazaki himself. Exhibits explore the history of animation and fans are treated to several exclusive short films not available anywhere else. It is described as a "portal to a storybook world", and kids will lose their minds when they see the giant Catbus (a character from My Neighbour Totoro) - and yes, you're allowed to get on board . . . if you're under 12 that is.
8 London Transport Museum
Britain's capital city is home to many fantastic museums, but you may be surprised at just how interesting and fun the history of its transport can be. Located in the heart of Convent Garden, the London Transport Museum allows you to climb in and take the wheel of various historic vehicles. There's the first underground electric train (which had no windows, as there was nothing to see), a Tube train simulator and of course, the iconic red double-decker buses. The ground floor is one big playground and in the new All Aboard play zone, kids can repair a mini Tube train or dress up as a variety of drivers.